July 3, 1919


On the Orders of the Day: Mr. S. W. JACOBS (George Etienne Cartier) Mas the Prime Minister received, during the last hours of this session, a protest from the Montreal Board of Trade respecting the enactment of legislation creating a Board of Commerce?


UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Yes, I have received it.

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PRICE OF WHEAT FOR 1919 CROP.


On the Orders of the Day:


L LIB

Archibald Blake McCoig

Laurier Liberal

Mr. A. B. McCOIG (Kent):

As wheat cutting has started in the southwestern part of Ontario, and as farmers will begin

I Sir Sam Hughes.]

threshing in a few days, has the Government given any consideration to the matter of fixing the ipriee of wheat for the 1919 crop? I understand the millers will not give the farmers any quotations on crops as they are waiting to see if the Government is going to give any consideration to this matter.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The Government has given a great deal of consideration to this question and to other questions intimately associated with it, but up to the present time the Government has not reached a conclusion to fix a price for the wheat crop of this year.

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BOARD OF COMMERCE ACT, 1919.


Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Acting Minister of Justice) moved the second reading of Bill No. 166, to constitute a Board of Commerce for Canada. He said: This Bill, associated with Bill No. 167, intituled " The Combines and Fair prices Act," embodies the proposals of the Government in specific form pursuant to the resolution of the Committee on the Cost of Living, which report was concurred in some two days ago in this House. The first Bill, which alone is now before the House, provides simply for the establishment of a Board of Commerce and for the empowering of that board to administer the Combines and Fair Prices Act, 1919, its associate Bill, and also to empower the board in certain other general respects, fully set out in the measure. The constitution of the board will be almost wholly along the lines of the constitution of the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada. The tenure of office, the security of tenure, and. the powers of the various members will he parallel to those that have so long ruled in the Board of Railway Commissioners. The number of members of the board, however, is much more restricted, being three instead of six. The exceptional powers given to the chairman, the exceptional qualifications demanded of him are akin, indeed, in every respect, alike to those of the chairman of the Board of Railway Commissioners. The purpose of the board will be to administer the Combines and Fair Prices Act, the terms of which are already before the House, the Bill having been distributed yesterday morning, and as I stated, the hoard will have other and more general powers in relation to control, within the limits of the Bill, of prices in Canada. The salaries to be paid to the board are not specified in the Bill as presented. Proposals will be made in committee after the views of hori. members have been obtained as to recommendations in that regard. The head office of the board is fixed for the city of Ottawa, but the jurisdiction of the board, of course, is equal throughout Canada. The main question that will be in the minds of hon. members will be as to the basis upon which the Government seeks to exercise control in matters relating wholly to civil rights and the executive powers of the board in that regard. The only method by which the Federal authorities can either act or legislate with regard to questions that are fundamentally questions of civil rights, is by the establishment of offences and by providing prohibition of the commission of such offences. That is the method adopted here. While civil rights appertain to the provinces alone in so far as civil remedies are concerned, indeed, appertain so exclusively to them that no legislation on our part, however well intended, would be effectual at law, nevertheless, for the reason that the powers of one province to act effectually are, in a large degree, hampered by the decision of . another province not to act in the same direction, there is, as a result, a very marked reluctance on the part of individual provinces to place on their statute books legislation dealing with the subject, and the call is very general-however just it may be is another question-and very persistent that the Federal authorities, having jurisdiction throughout the Dominion, should, within the limits of such jurisdiction that they have, do something to control what is commonly known as profiteering. Consequently by the Combines and Fair Prices Bill certain rules and principles are laid down, or to speak more definitely, the Board of Commerce is empowered to establish rules and principles and prohibitions, the violation of which, once they are made the order of the board, will constitute an offence and be punishable as such. The Federal authorities have power to constitute offences and to provide for their prohibition and punishment, and exercising that power, the Combines and Fair Prices Act is submitted to Parliament as the best and most reasonable and effectual means of putting into effect in the only way in which it can be put into effect the power vested in the Federal Parliament. I do not feel that I would be doing any service to the House to speak further on the general principle that is embodied in the two Bills now presented. I will, however, in Committee be prepared to treat more specifically on the various clauses of the Board of Commerce Bill, and I invite the earnest application of each and every hon. member of this House to those clauses as thoroughly, as effectually, and as expeditiously as is possible. I am quite aware that we are close to the end of the session and that these are very important measures indeed, but I hope that the limited time at our disposal will be used to the utmost advantage to see that the Bills are made not only as effectual as possible, but as fair as they can be made in the interests of the people of this country, and as free from just criticism of every kind as Bills can Tie made in this House. The reason they are introduced at this late hour of the session is, first of all, that there must always be at all times measures for the consideration of Parliament, but more particularly for the reason that the Government did not feel that it should anticipate the work of the committee dealing with the subject matter of this legislation before the committee reported. The report of that committee has only very recently been brought down, and immediately these Bills were introduced into the House; indeed the rules of the House were set aside for the purpose of promoting their immediate introduction, and they are now before us for second reading,' though late, at the earliest possible moment they could be placed before Parliament. iMr. iMIOHAEL CLAiRK (ited Deer): 1 feel -that I owe the House an apology for the frequency with which I have found myself on my feet in the last few days. The apology ought to receive acceptance, however, in view of the statement which has just come from the minister that this is extremely important legislation to bring down within a few days of the closing of Parliament. That applies not only to this legislation, but to a great deal more than has gone on during the last week. I trust under these circumstances the House will bear with me while, as briefly as I can, 1 make a few comments on this proposed legislation. With regard to the lateness of the session I think consideration is coming to the Government on that head when we remember the fact that the most experienced members of the Government were, in the early part of this session, overseas. Still, the fact remains that we performed all sorts of parliamentary antics here for weeks and even months about things of trifling



importance, and this legislation was not before us. The importance of this legislation, meant as it is, to deal with the unrest in Canada and the high cost of living, cannot be exaggerated. I apprehend 'that the House will agree with me when I say that it is fairly deducible from certain facts that the' Government have no great expectation of good from this legislation. I say that advisedly. If that is their frame of mind, then I fear I have to say that I am in accord with them. I will tell the House why I am in that frame of mind in a minute or two. I say the Government have no great expectations of doing any good with this legislation; that they have no great expectations is deducible from certain facts. What have been the statements of the Government in regard to unrest and the high cost of living repeated in this House again and again during this session? They have been to the effect that these evils are existing all over the world. The Minister of Finance was much more specific when he went before the Cost of Living Committee and said he had no new remedies to propose, that what the people iof Canada must do was to get down to hard work and thrift. Now it did not need a House of Commons or a Government to teach those very ancient moral precepts, and I think it is fairly deducible from that statement from the minister most concerned with these matters that the Government have no very great expectations from their own legislation. Personally I have reasons for not basing my expectations too high. I think my hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) who has introduced this legislation was in the House wim myself twhen the Combines Investigation Act was introduced by the previous government, nine or ten years ago. I very well remember that on that occasion I found it my painful duty to disagree with my leader of that day, and I disagreed with him to the extent of prophesying that that legislation of nine or ten years ago would not be of much use, "describing it as, in my judgment, a Bill to cure an earthquake. How much use it has been will be brought home to the House when they reflect that there has been but one prosecution under the Act. The Act is practically a dead letter on the statute books, but the earthquake has gone on disturbing people, and we have to-day the same troubles in the body politic, aggravated to a tremendous extent, that we had at that time. It seems to me that neither political party in this House has cut to the roots [Mr. M. Clark. 1 of this matter. We have not got to the root of what is wrong with the people, and my hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) comes now at the end of nine or ten years to administer another pill. Well, I say most wholeheartedly that I hope his pill will be more efficacious than the medicament which was given by Mr. Mackenzie King nine or ten years ago. This is another piece of mimetic legislation. The Board of Commerce is borrowed from the United States. Now as to what good the Board of Commerce is going to do, we can surely derive very important evidence from the United States, and what is that evidence? I am supposing that we are trying to get to the root of the cost of living, and the causes of that cost of living as leading to unrest and discontent among our people. They have had a Board of Commerce in the United States I think for four years-the minister can inform us if I am wrong. What are we told as to the cost of living in the United States? We have been told again and again that there is no difference between the cost of living in the United States and the cost of living in Canada. The statement is not mine; it is the statement of ministers and their supporters who agree with their fiscal policy. Very well; if there has been a Board of Commerce in tlje United States for three or four years, and on the evidence of those who embody that procedure here, nothing has been done to reduce the cost of living in the United States, I think I am justified along the line of fair criticism in saying that my expectations of results from this legislation are not very high. Neither can the Government's expectations be very high in the logical mind of my hon. friend the Acting Minister of Justice. However, I am not going to oppose this legislation. I should like, however, to say this: I think the Government would have been more logical in their procedure if they had borrow'ed some other things from the United States at the same time they borrowed the Board of Commerce. I am going to go farther than that. I do not believe the cost of living is as high in the United States as it is in Canaria. All the eyidence I am able to gather from visitors to that country points in the contrary direction and goes to show that the cost of living is higher in Canada than in the United States. But, it is not lower in the United States, in my judgment, because they have a board of commerce there. It is lower because they have very largely, a free trade tariff in the United States. We hear frequently of the United States as being a great protectionist country. The facts do not hear that out. What 'is the tariff in the United States? I apologize again for referring to this so frequently in this House, but, Mr. Speaker, I must keep on until I make a few converts to my cause. As a matter of fact, Sir, I keep on in response to the most distinguished advice which I have been able to get, that of Mr. Gladstone, who left behind him a book in which he had placed two marks of exclamation opposite a statement which was quoted from O'Connell, that to convince the people of the truth of what you believe you have not only to make statements to them but you have to iterate, and reiterate, those statements. That great Irishman, O'Connell, believed in a doctrine of which Gladstone approved and I trust the House will excuse me for wanting to follow such very good advice before an audience which it has not been easy to convert. What is the tariff in the United 'States? Since the adoption of the Underwood tariff in 1913 seventy per cent of the goods coming into the United States have come in free of duty. If it is a good thing to imitate the United States, let the Minister of Finance begin at this point-thirty per cent only of the goods coming into the United States are dutiable. Tn 1912 the average tariff rate on dutiable goods in the United States was 40-12. It was a protectionist country. In 1918 the average tariff on dutiable goods was 21 -75-almost exactly the figure which I quoted in my speech in the Budget debate as being the highest duty which Sir Robert Peel allowed to prevail in England at the introduction of his first budget in 1842. What, is the consequence to the American people? The consequence is that for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1918, the Government of the United States collected from 110,000,000 people only the paltry sum of $182,758,988. Our own tariff collections, in this small country of 8,000,000 people, were not so many million dollars short of the total sum collected by the American Government. Now, Mr. Speaker, I hold that if there has been anything good done by the Wilson Government, there has been this: That the cost of living has been brought down to a lower point in the United States than in this country. I have drawn, attention, to these facts again and again and I shall persist until the last moment that I have the honour of a seat in this House in doing *my duty to Canada-not to any section of Canada. May I, in this connection, call attention to one thing more-still carrying on my analogy between these two great countries? I need not apologize for doing so because ever since I have had a seat in this House I have had my attention directed to the United States, When I have ventured to utter what I believe to be economic truth, I have been told: Look at the great country to the south of us. Well, look at the great country to the south of us; imitate .them with your boards of commerce and your combines investigations, which is mere dust cast into the eyes of the people, mere dust in the balance compared with the really radical reforms to which I have referred. What excuse is there-I shall repeat the question what excuse is .there for patriotic Canadian statesmen to keep a duty of 35 per cent on the boots and shoes of this country when they are free in the United States? I might extend the list indefinitely. What excuse is .there for the Government of this country keeping a 'considerable duty on cement, an important building material of this country, when it is free in the United States? What excuse is there for keeping a duty on agricultural implements while agricultural implements are free in the United States and at the same time telling your farmers: You have got to produce. Look at the United States, I have been told ! Yes, look and imitate them if you want to do something that is really going to reach the heart of this question. What is the effect of making it 35 per cent more difficult for the workers in our cities and the workers on our farms to keep their feet, and the feet of their wives and children, properly covered? The effect, inevitably, is to drive your inhabitants from Canada across the imaginary line which separates Canada from the United States. This is a serious matter, Mr. Speaker, this is a matter which concerns every one of us and I venture to speak strongly upon it because I feel strongly. Now I have concluded and I hope I shall not have to trouble the House again this session. I certainly shall not along this line because the opportunity will not be forthcoming. My hon. friend .the Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White) goes before a committee and tells our people through evidence given before that committee, that they must practise thrift. When the Government commends this doctrine to the citizens of the country the duty is incumbent upon it of setting the example. If the Minister of Finance had been in his seat I would have said to him that in this matter he seems to have exercised very poorly his powers and to have



very poorly discharged his functions as the watchdog of the treasury, because the expenses of this country are mounting in such a way as to alarm the mind of every thoughtful and patriotic citizen of (Canada. The duty of the Government is to develop the trade of the country. It is to increase its yield. The tariff was the instrument by which I had hoped against hope along reasonable and moderate lines this question would have been solved and in regard to which a measure would have been brought to this House for approval. I had hoped against hope that the Government would use that instrument in the Budget. I take this opportunity once more of drawing attention to the tariff as the instrument which should have been tried along with this other legislation. As to the general principle of interfering by means of a bludgeon, because that is what it is-going around and examining people's business affairs-I do not believe in it because I have very little use for the bludgeon in our politics. I have very little use for methods of force in managing people at all. There are natural laws under which human nature will run along upon right lines and there are natural laws under which trade will run along upon right lines. There would be some excuse, however, for the United States doing these things, because they have gone a very long way along the lines in which I believe. I want to say in conclusion that if we consider the comparative figures as between the United' States and Canada, and if we consider the amount we receive from eight millions of our people, we have an explanation there of the high cost of living, and of much of the unrest and the difficulty that is afflicting our people to-day; and I denounce the Canadian tariff, when compared with the United States tariff, as a monstrosity which is largely guilty of a great deal of that umest and trouble. By dealing with it we should have done better, and been more logical, than by imitating fifty per cent of the legislation of the United States, and that fifty per cent the least likely to be effectual in producing those results which I am sure we ail desire to bring about.


UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. H. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre):

The hon. gentleman has introduced into the discussion of this Bill a subject matter which, while quite proper in connection with the Budget, is, I venture to suggest to the House, not rightly applicable to the measure now under consideration. I notice that in one breath he argues that this par-

[Hr. M. Clark.]

ticular board should be rejected by this House-

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Subtopic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE ACT, 1919.
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UNION

Hugh Clark (Parliamentary Secretary of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr M. CLARK:

I must protest, if I may, against words being put into my mouth which I expressly did not use. I did not say I was not opposed to the legislation, and I have not asked the House to reject it.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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UNION

Hugh Clark (Parliamentary Secretary of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. M. CLARK:

I am in the hearing of the House when I make that statement.

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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

I am at an entire loss to know why such a vigorous speech was delivered by my hon. friend if it was not with the intention of urging the rejection of the Bill. We will accept his explanation, but nevertheless I must draw attention to the fact that he argued that the Trade Board in the United States had done absolutely nothing to reduce the cost of living. Then he proceeded to argue that the cost of living in the United States was lower than in Canada, and in a vigorous manner attributed that entirely to the effect of a lower tariff. The exact ground of his reasoning I could not quite follow. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the establishment of such a tribunal in the United States did have some excellent results. I am not going to delay the House with an analysis of the activities of that board, but I will simply say this: On many occasions that board discovered cases where there was profiteering-to use a common word which conveys the desired meaning so aptly-and through their instrumentality that method of profiteering has been very largely curbed. Now I proceed to this point: Every member of the House and every intelligent student of economics will, admit that the main underlying cause for the high cost of living is the great international Upheaval of the last few years. I shall not labour the point, we all admit it, but there are other contributory causes which are local and which, to some degree at least, can be controlled; and what I wish to impress upon the House is that it is the duty of Parliament, so far as they are able, to control these contributory causes. I claim that one of the main causes of unrest in Canada to-day is the high cost of living, and the knowledge on the part of the people that a very large number of firms in this country have been earning abnormal profits during the war and during this period of the increasing cost of living. The very knowledge of that fact makes it necessary for this Parliament to take cognizance of it, and to deal with the problem

fittingly and as best they can. The Bill which is now under consideration contains a clause which I will not discuss in detail hut merely refer to for the purpose of emphasizing the argument that I have now made. This clause refers to any breach or non-observance of any provision of the Act in respect of the making or taking of unfair profits for or upon the holding or disposition of necessaries of life and then goes on to provide:

all such practices with respect to the holding or disposition of necessaries of life, as, in the opinion of the Board, are designed or calculated' to unfairly enhance the cost or price of such necessaries of life, etc.

In other words, one of the main principles of the Bill is to deal with the increased cost of living as it is brought about by hoarding, by improper trade practices, and by unreasonable and unfair profits. I say without fear of contradiction that the whole country is crying out for action 'by this Parliament to deal with exactly that sort of practice. I do not wish to delay the House at any length, but I must emphasize that point by calling attention to evidence that has been brought before the Committee -merely stating the fact, and leaving Parliament to read the evidence itself-calling attention to the fact that there has been brought before the Committee case after case where abnormal profits have been made, and strange to say largely during the period of the war. That is that, in many, many cases, abnormal profits have been earned during the last three years, and to a degree which exceeded the profits earned in the previous ten, fifteen, and in some cases, twenty and twenty-five years. That very fact alone warrants this House in taking cognizance of the situation and in endeavouring to remedy it.

Another point I wish to make is, that my hon. friend (Mr. M. Clark) with a good deal of force and, I think, with a good deal of logic, urged that trade should take its natural course, that we should leave the natural laws of supply and demand, and so forth, to deal with trade. Under ordinary circumstances I would entirely agree with him, but I draw his attention, and the attention of others who think as he does, to the point that during the last five years trade has not been allowed, has not been permitted, nor has it been possible for it, to follow its natural course. In every civilized country in the world, trade has been restricted, controlled, and directed. In Canada we prohibited many classes of imports and many classes of manufactures; we

stopped them, virtually speaking; and the same applies to other countries. It will be many months, and many years, I believe, before things will be so re-adjusted that trade can follow its natural channel, and the natural laws of trade will be applicable. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it is imperative that this House should make every provision to protect the people of the country against undue enhancement of prices because of this artificial direction of trade. I shall not detain honourable gentlemen with examples or further argument, but merely emphasize the point that the country is demanding that we exert every conceivable effort possible with respect to these matters and deal with the abnormal increase in the cost of living, in so far as we can do so; that we deal effectively, rigorously, and definitely with profiteers, or those who are inclined to profiteer, and make that an utter impossibility, and, as far as lies in our power, protect the consumer, who, after all, constitutes the gVeat unorganized body of society, against these inroads upon his rights as a free citizen of Canada. That is all I intend to say, except to urge the House to give this Bill most favourable attention and to make the assertion that so far as a large portion of the members of the House is concerned, we believe this Bill will effectively assist, at least, in dealing with the problem of the high cost of living.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. D. D. McKENZIE (Cape Breton North):

I do not intend to detain the House for any length of time. I must congratulate the House and the country on the very excellent address delivered by the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Clark). Some times we cannot agree with his philosophy or his politics, but I say without hesitation, and as a man who usually does not receive the support or the commendation of the hon. gentleman, that I regard his deliverance as of great national importance, and I hope it will be of substantial assistance to the people in giving them a true insight into the real trade conditions of this country and the relations that should exist between the Government and the governed.

Let me say, Mr. Speaker, that as far as any remedial legislation along the lines of this Bill is concerned, we on this side of the House have been advocating it ever since the early days of the war. If the hon. gentleman in charge of this Bill will refer to the debates in 1916 and 1917, and possibly in 1918, he will find that I, in my humble way, and other members on this side of the House were pressing upon him and upon

the Government the necessity of some legislation that would give us a firmer hold upon the profiteering conditions in this country, but we were always turned aside and told that " really nothing could be done." I feel, Sir, that the hon. member for Red Deer spoke the truth only too plainly and none too strongly when he said that the Government themselves do not expect any very beneficial results from this legislation. But as far as we on this side of the House are concerned, we trust that it will give us such a grip on the existing profiteering conditions as will bring them to an end.

It is true, Sir, that we on this side of the House have done everything we could to promote freer trade. We have advocated free food and the placing on the free list of the very articles the hon. member for Red Deer has mentioned. But we have no executive authority. We can advocate as strongly as he can, but we have no power to put into concrete effective legislation any ideas that we may entertain. Therefore, if this Bill is going to help in lowering the cost of living and in curbing the combines, it will have our support, and it is only fair that it should be given a trial.

The advocates of the National Policy did not expect that it would enhance the cost of living in this country. The ideas of such men as the late Right Hon. Sir John Macdonald and Sir Charles Tupper were that although we would have industries developed within the provinces, prices would be kept normal and within easy reach of the people by means of keen local competition. That condition of things might perhaps have gone on for some years, but the manufacturing and industrial magnates of this country got their heads together and said: Why should we be eating our heads off in this way? Why should I be fighting you, and why should you be fighting me, when we can agree on prices and thereby make money? That has resulted, whether we can bring it out or not, in combines and " gentlemen's agreements " by which prices are fixed and production is controlled in such a way that prices have gone up sky-high, and legitimate competition in the industrial life of this country has disappeared absolutely.

There are two things that we ought to do. First, we ought to give the freest possible access to other goods, and so destroy these combines and mergers, if such exist,-and I have no doubt that they do exist. If those in favour of that idea are not in a position to translate it into effective legis-

TMr. McKenzie.]

lation, we have the opportunity now from the Government of using another means. While permitting the outside walls to exist, they say, " Within those walls we will attempt to regulate, so that profiteering to any great extent will not be possible, and if it is in existence it will be prescribed and discredited as far as the enactments of the criminal law can bring that about." I fear that it will not be very effective, I fear that the energy of the Government will not go behind it, I fear that it will be only thrown out as a sort of camouflage or disguise to the people so that the Government can say: " We have done this thing, and it is for somebody else to see that this law is carried out." If this Bill is to become law, I hope, Sir, that the whole force of the Government will be utilized to see that the law is properly enforced so that good will come to the people by reason of this proposed legislation.

I wish to put myself in entire accord with what was said by the hon. member for Red Deer, and said so very much better than I could say it, in connection with what should take place in this country for the immediate benefit of the people who are suffering by reason of conditions that have existed for the past few years, and I hope that at a little later date, when the people will be freed from the trammels of this Government, they will express their own views upon this very important question.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACQUES BUREAU (Three Rivers):

We are called upon, Mr. Speaker, to discuss the principle of a most important Bill contained in fifteen printed pages. This Bill actually creates a judicial tribunal. I see the date of the first reading is the 28th of June, and the first opportunity I have had to look at it is this morning. I have merely had a chance to take a glance at it, and its provisions seem to be of the greatest importance. We do not want to delay the business of the House, although it would be justifiable to a great extent, for we could have' taken advantage of the fact that this Bill is not printed in French, and therefore, according to the rules of the House, cannot be read a second time. We waived that because we desire to expedite matters. But there is one thing we are entitled to at least, and that is a little consideration. No hon. member has had an opportunity to examine this Bill and the Bill which comes after it, No. 167, which is to be cited as the Combines and Fair Prices Act, 1919. This Bill provides in section 25 that the Board shall be charged with the general administration

of the Combines and Fair Prices Act, 1919, which was only presented to the House on the 28th of June, and the first opportunity we have had to look at it is to-day-a Bill of ten pages and twenty-four clauses, cannot say what it contains, because I have not had an opportunity to read it For the same reason, I do not know what Bill 166 contains. We want to conclude the business of the session, but we ought not to rush it through in such a way as to pass legislation-I will use the word, if I am permitted, Mr. Speaker-with levity. The Government may have considered these matters, having prepared the legislation, but we on this side have a duty to perform, and that is to examine the legislation and criticise it. If we try to look into any matter connected with a Government proposal; if we express our views and make suggestions concerning it, it is said that we want to reject it. My hon. friend (Mr. M. Clark) has very ably expressed his view regarding the principle involved in these Bills-that the remedy sought to be applied is not the proper one; that if, you want to get at the root of the evil you could follow another course, with better advantage. In an effort to discredit the remarks of the member for Red Deer, my hon. friend (Mr. Stevens) says that that hon. member wants to reject the proposal which is made. Does not the Prime Minister think that we are entitled to at least some consideration? It is intimated by the official press of the Government-well, I do not know whether there is any official press of the Government, but the organs of the Government announce that certain measures will be held off until another session; consequently we do not give them much attention, taking it for granted that they will be held over. But to our surprise these measures are sprung upon us and we are given but a short time to consider them. To-day we are asked to pass two Bills involving entirely new matters which have not been discussed in the House, which are brought here practically for the first time on the second reading, and which we have not had an opportunity of looking into, because the printed copies are laid on the Table only this morning. Bill 167 contains 24 clauses; Bill 166 contains 51 clauses. May I remark, en passant, that Bill 166 ought to be Bill 167, and vice versa? Under Bill 166 it is proposed that the Combines and Fair Prices Act, 1919, shall be administered, but Bill 167, which is the Combines and Fair Prices Act, has not been read the second time, has not been

considered in committee, has not been discussed at all. If we are to consider intelligently the creation of a tribunal which is to administer a certain Act, we should first deal with the Act which sets forth the matters so to be administered by that tribunal. I ask that this matter be postponed so that we may have time to look into it. Many Estimates have yet to be considered; there is plenty of other work to do. I suggest that that work be proceeded with; it can be given attention by some hon. members, and those who take a special interest in this legislation will have a reasonable opportunity of at least reading these Bills over. Hon. gentlemen cannot read them while discussion is going on and at the same time listen to the arguments pro and con. The Opposition is not being fairly treated in this matter and I want to register my protest.

At one o'clock the House took recess.

The House resumed at three o'clock.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE ACT, 1919.
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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

When the House rose at one o'clock, I was pleading with the Prime Minister that the second reading of this Bill might be postponed to give the Opposition time to look into it. I have had just a very casual glance at the two Bills; I must confess I have not had time to read them through, and as they are very closely interwoven together, one cannot go through without the other. One creates a board with great powers, and the other creates, if I might call it so, the offence, and in Bill No. 167, containing the offence, the jurisdiction of the board is also called into account. It would not be right to state that we can proceed to discuss the various clauses in Committee of the Whole, because there may be objections to the principle of the Bill which we cannot now foresee, as we have had neither the opportunity nor the time to examine and study these Bills, If the Prime Minister will allow the second reading of these two Bills to stand, we shall go into them this afternoon, and in the meanwhile the business of the House can go on; Estimates can be taken up, and those who. have more particularly in charge looking after legislation in the House will have time to study both Bills. In this way time will be saved because, when we come to Bill No. 167, we shall know exactly what *it contains, and by discussing one we shall be in a position to discuss most of the clauses contained in the other. If the Prime Minister will grant my request, I shall not proceed further, but if not, I want

to discuss, as far as I have read the Bill, some provisions with which, without further consideration, I cannot agree. I do not close my remarks, but I am just waiting to see if my request is granted 'by the Prime Minister.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE ACT, 1919.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

We should like to pass the second reading and go into committee, and if my hon. friend wants to discuss the principle of the Bill in committee, there will be no objection.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE ACT, 1919.
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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

As in the second reading, the principle of the Ball is involved, I beg my right hon. friend not to put us in the humiliating position of accepting the principle of the Bill by passing the second reading without having really had an opportunity to study the Bill. My hon. friend told me that we had had all night to look into the Bill, but he forgets that we sat here until twelve-thirty last night and then had to walk or get home as best we could. Fortunately some kind friends gave us a ride to the hotel. This afternoon we had to wait fifteen or twenty minutes for a cab and then drive up to the hotel and drive back. These are extraordinary circumstances, and I would ask my right hon. friend as a matter of right, I think I may say, to grant my request. Supposing the conditions were reversed and we asked him on short notice, to pass two lengthy Bills and admit the principle embodied in them I think in fairness we would have to grant a similar request on his part. How much further will it advance us to pass the second reading now? If it will advance the business of the House, well and good; but if the Bill is put into committee, we shall be committed to the principle of the Bill without knowing what we are doing, and we shall be put in. the position of being charged in the country with passing important legislation in haste and not taking the time to look into and to discuss the principle of the measure. That will not advance matters any, and I am sure my right hon. friend! cannot refuse to grant my request. During the afternoon I'will go through the Bills with some of my friends and we shall know enough about them to discuss the principles, and we shall agree to take the principles of the two Bills Nos. 166 and 167 together, because they are so closely interwoven that they can be discussed well together and, with great difficulty, separately.

'Sir ROBERT BORDEN: My hon. friend forgets that this is merely carrying out the

recommendation of a report which, after debate, has already been accepted by the House; but notwithstanding that, I assure my hon. friend of the willingness of the Government to permit discussion in committee of the principle of the Bill, if that should be desired. My hon. friend's appeals are couched in such moving language that they would melt almost a heart of stone, but I hope that, on consideration, he will see that the course I am suggesting is quite reasonable. There is no desire on the part of the Government to prevent full discussion of this Bill; in fact, we have a very earnest desire that all the provisions of the Bill shall be most fully discussed and that all necessary time shall be given to that purpose. As it is, however, somewhat late in the session, it seemed to us that the matter would be advanced with ad- * vantage to the House, and with no detriment to the public interest if the course I suggest should be carried out.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE ACT, 1919.
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July 3, 1919